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Apple MacBook Pro (15 in

Apple's current-generation MacBook Pro laptops get a CPU update along with new connectivity options.

James Martin/CNET

Apple announced updates across its laptop line today, bringing current-generation Intel CPUs to its MacBook Air and its MacBook Pro laptops, as well as introducing a new, next-generation MacBook Pro with a 2,880x1,800 pixel "retina" display. This first take will focus on the previous-generation MacBook Pro, traditionally Apple's workhorse performance laptop.

Apple's MacBook Pro, its flagship laptop line, has been around for some time, and has sported nearly the same look and aluminum unibody construction since 2008. For the most part, Apple's kept the look of the new MacBook Pros largely similar, updating the whole line with new processors and new features.

James Martin

As widely expected, all of the new MacBook Pros include Intel's new third-generation Core processors. Formerly known under the code name Ivy Bridge, these new CPUs offer modest performance and battery life improvements over the previous generation, but much better graphics performance via Intel's new HD 4000 integrated graphics.

That integrated graphics performance is key for a laptop such as the MacBook Pro 13-inch that lacks a discrete GPU, but the 15-inch Pros also include a new Nvidia GeForce 650M graphics chip, an upgrade and vendor switch from the AMD graphics in the previous MacBook Pro models.

James Martin

The default 13-inch CPU is now a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, while the 15-inch default CPU is a 2.3GHz Core i7.

The chipset for Intel's Ivy Bridge platform has support for USB 3.0 built in, so it's included here as well, in addition to Apple's underutilized Thunderbolt port.

The most recent refresh dates from October 2011, which added the previous generation of Intel Core CPUs, formerly code-named Sandy Bridge.

While expensive, the MacBook Pro is a go-to laptop for many creative professionals. The Air has taken over the default consumer model, but those who want larger hard drives, discrete graphics, bigger screens, and more ports and connections have stuck with the Pro.

James Martin

Like previous MacBook Pro models, the new versions include 500GB or 750GB default platter hard drives, but also offer solid-state drive (SSD) storage. The available SSD sizes are 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB, but these remain expensive options. The default RAM for both the 13-inch and 15-inch Pros is 4GB.

The familiar multitouch glass touch pad remains unchanged, as does the backlit, island-style keyboard. The multifinger gesture controls and general responsiveness of the touch pad (and its inertial scrolling) remain key selling points over Windows laptops.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,199, while the 15-inch starts at $1,799. Apple says both new models will be available for purchase today.

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